Fred Ward, a veteran character actor who delighted fans in the first two Tremors movies, has passed away. He was 79 years old. No cause of death has yet been revealed, but his Ward's passing was confirmed by his publicist, Ron Hoffmann. Born December 30, 1942, Ward gained mainstream attention playing astronaut Gus Grissom in the 1974 film The Right Stuff. He would go on to have a long career in which he played a wide variety of character types in films like The Player, Short Cuts, ...First Do No Harm, and on TV in shows like Grey's Anatomy and Leverage. In one of his final film roles, he appeared in the comic book adaptation 2 Guns starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg.
Ward, along with the rest of the ensemble, won a Golden Globe Award for Short Cuts. His final screen role was in True Detective season 2, in which he played Eddie Velcoro, a retired cop and the father of Colin Farrell's Ray Velcoro.
"The unique thing about Fred Ward is that you never knew where he was going to pop up, so unpredictable were his career choices," Hofmann told NPR. "He could play such diverse characters as Remo Williams, a cop trained by Chiun, Master of Sinanju (Joel Grey) to become an unstoppable assassin in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, or Earl Bass, who, alongside Kevin Bacon, battle giant, worm-like monsters hungry for human flesh in 'cult' horror/comedy film, Tremors (1990), or a detective in the indie film Two Small Bodies (1993) directed by underground filmmaker Beth B., or a terrorist planning to blow up the Academy Awards in The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult (1994), or the father of the lead character in Jennifer Lopez's revenge thriller Enough (2002)."
Ward's Tremors role made him a fan-favorite, because after the first movie flopped at the box office, it became a huge hit on home video. Stars like Reba McIntire and Kevin Bacon opted not to come back for Tremors II: Aftershocks, but Ward came back (along with Michael Gross, who would do a bunch more sequels). Fans had hoped he might reprise the role in the scrapped Tremors TV show, which would have brought Bacon back.
Ward is survived by his wife of 27 years, Marie-France Ward and his son Django. Our condolences go out to Mr. Ward's family, friends, fans and collaborators.